It's been awhile and as I sit here mid-January with a project just completed, and a new one starting up tomorrow, I wanted to share something I've been thinking about lately, and that is, courage. As the holidays came quickly upon us, I found myself tending to my whiplash and after-effects of my first-ever car accident on Dec. 15th. Thankfully I escaped without permanent injury and am SO grateful that the father (driver) told me that morning that he believed his teenage son would be "ok", though he had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital for a hip injury.
They say there's a silver lining in everything, right? As I desperately tried to get right back to my usual routine of busy-busy, my body (and my husband, thank goodness), kicked some sense into me. I slept and slept some more. The very next day, I did the same thing. After two full days of rest, I resurfaced and I decided that a lot of the holiday hustle and bustle that I usually get pulled into, I'd let myself just take each day, one day at a time. As the days ticked on I worried less and less about getting everything done in time. I allowed myself a pass for the holidays. Holiday cards?, not this year. Holiday promo piece or thank you gifts? Not this year as well. What was I thinking about? Courage! Christmas came, and it was as wonderful as ever! My children, husband, and extended family all came together and we all worked together as a team. Courage to just say no..and let it go? A silver lining indeed.
Before the accident, I must have had that word in my conscience because I had to make a big decision about a submission to the annual SCBWI Tomie dePaola Award contest. I've entered for years, and have never placed or won anything, always toiling and worrying as I created one illustration to submit in the quest of satisfying Tomie's prompt. Each year I'd ask, "what would Tomie love?". Each year, I'd hope and in January would be disappointed, but happy for the winners as I could see why they were chosen. Though never placing or winning, the challenge for me has always been rewarding and worthwhile. This year's prompt (I'll post the full text below) ended with Tomie's final statement:
Best of luck and good work. And, as I’ve been saying a lot lately, “COURAGE!”
Those words resonated! It inspired me to just create..sketch and sketch and paint, start over, sketch and paint again. It allowed me to be "free" from all of the preconceptions of "what would Tomie love?" Honestly, I still wondered "what would Tomie love?" as I created these illustrations, but it didn't stop me from putting concepts on paper and just go for it. His statement, that word, were gifts to me.
The winners were announced this week, and I am so happy for them. I really am! Lisa Cinelli's grand prize winning piece was endearing! I see why Tomie chose her piece and that makes me feel great that her work successfully illustrated the prompt.
One of the best things about entering this contest each year is seeing all of the entries in the Unofficial Gallery - spearheaded by Diandra Mae. She works incredibly hard on this each year and it is such a great thing that we are all able to see everyone's submissions.
I received a lot of great feedback from my peers and agent, and in the end decided upon #3 below. #2 was a close one, but I took Tomie's advice and had courage to submit the piece that made me feel closest to the Little Red Riding Hood I wanted to share with the world. One that loved her little red cap so much that she wore it all the time, even in the bathtub.
I have a big month ahead... I'll be attending my first ever big SCBWI biannual conference, the NYSCBWI event in February and I cannot wait! I'm excited, and a bit worried that I won't have enough time to prep for the portfolio showcase, but I will continue to lean on this word, courage, as I press on and try my best.
As the year unfolds and we've lost loved ones already, and know of those who are suffering, I am wishing for peace, and love. Life is precious I tell you, and my appreciation for all of my blessings grows deeper each day. I am grateful to belong to such a wonderful community..thank you all for sharing your lives and gifts with me, and MANY thanks for reading/visiting and for indulging me in sharing this very long post. Here's to a year filled with courage! ~ Shirley
Here is the 2016 Tomie dePaola Award Prompt:
One of the biggest and most important challenges the Children’s Book Illustrator faces, over and over again, is the UNIQUE VISUALIZATION of the MAIN CHARACTER.
So often, I have seen illustrators resort to generic depictions of the star of the story–too “designed,” too ordinary, too much like characters already seen in media, especially on TV and video games.
The assignment is simply to illustrate a moment from the following passage from Philip Pullman’s version of “Little Red Riding Hood” from FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM (Viking, 2012). (You may want to read the entire story. It is an excellent book.)
Once upon a time there was a little girl who was so sweet and kind that everyone loved her. Her grandmother, who loved her more than anyone, gave her a little cap made of red velvet, which suited her so well that she wanted to wear it all the time. Because of that everyone took to calling her Little Red Riding Hood.
One day her mother said to her: ‘Little Red Riding Hood, I’ve got a job for you. Your grandmother isn’t very well, and I want you to take her this cake and a bottle of wine. They’ll make her feel a lot better. You be polite when you go into her house, and give her a kiss from me. Be careful on the way there, and don’t step off the path or you might trip over and break the bottle and drop the cake, and then there’d be nothing for her. When you go into her parlour don’t forget to say, “Good morning, Granny,” and don’t go peering in all the corners.’
‘I’ll do everything right, don’t worry,’ said Little Red Riding Hood, and kissed her mother goodbye.
Her grandmother lived in the woods, about half an hour’s walk away. When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him.
Your task is to make me “FALL IN LOVE” with your illustration and especially with Red Riding Hood. I want to “meet her” for the first time. Best of luck and good work. And, as I’ve been saying a lot lately, “COURAGE!”
So with all of that in mind, I got to work, sketched a lot, and came up with three illustrations:
" ‘I’ll do everything right, don’t worry,’ said Little Red Riding Hood, and kissed her mother goodbye.
Her grandmother lived in the woods, about half an hour’s walk away. When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him."
"Once upon a time there was a little girl who was so sweet and kind that everyone loved her. Her grandmother, who loved her more than anyone, gave her a little cap made of red velvet, which suited her so well that she wanted to wear it all the time. Because of that everyone took to calling her Little Red Riding Hood."
|My entry for the 2016 Tomie dePaola Contest|